This article originally appeared in the “New Zealand Stamp Collector”, the official journal of the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand. It is republished by kind permission of the Society.

The Royal Philatelic Society was privileged recently to hear an interesting talk on stamp collecting as an investment. The speaker made the point that the acquisition of rare stamps, necessarily in perfect condition, solely for investment as a hedge against inflation is a joyless occupation from a collecting point of view – this notwithstanding its soundness as a financial policy.

For most collectors the pleasures of seeing their treasures increase in value is tinged with chagrin as they see others which they covet being priced beyond their means.

Philatelic Societies
Before joining the Royal Philatelic Society I was intimidated by its title into believing that it was a society of aging experts with no place for a relatively inexperienced collector. I could not have been more wrong. As do other philatelic societies throughout New Zealand, the Royal welcomes all collectors, whether as visitors or prospective new members. Meetings are informal and friendly, and senior philatelists are always more than willing to share their knowledge and to help the beginner.

Preparing material for display at a meeting, or for a competition or exhibition, provides the impetus to improve a collection. It impels the weeding out and replacement of unattractive specimens and the sorting of those envelopes and shoe boxes of stamps which have been accumulating for years. With Panpex 77 rapidly approaching, the time to begin is now. I have never regretted making the effort for Welpex in 1972; although it involved much time and application the resultant improvement to my collection it well worth while.

What to Collect
The fascination of stamp collecting is its many facets, and the choice of what to collect and the manner of presentation are decisions of the individual collector. The decision of what to collect is an easy one – collect what appeals most. If the future value of a collection is a consideration, the early issues of any well-established country, in fine condition, could become an asset.

Condition is of paramount importance, but it is up to the individual to decide whether there is a place for a defective stamp in his collection, or a space-filler is acceptable when it appears unlikely that he will ever be able to obtain or afford a perfect copy. The renowned 1856 1c British Guiana is a sorry specimen.

Most longer-standing collectors have progressed from a world collection to a simplified one of several countries, then to a specialized collection of one or more countries, and finally perhaps of one country, subject or even one issue. A collection may be developed by the addition of relevant postal history, postal stationery or Cinderella material. Any of these categories could become a specialized study in its own right, but even a few examples can add a new dimension to a collection.

I can recall times during my early collecting days when, looking at friends’ collections, I would air my superior knowledge by pointing out incorrectly-identified stamps or stating with authority, “That’s not a proper stamp” if I recognized a “cut-out”, fiscal, or a Christmas seal. These, of course, were to be discarded out of hand.

Wiser souls than I who retained this type of material were in on the ground floor for collecting what are now known as Cinderellas. The term has probably as many interpretations as there are collectors. I favour the opinion that it encompasses anything of a stamp-like nature or of philatelic interest associated with postage, collection of revenue by governments, or fees by companies performing a carriage service where the receipt bears a similarity to a postage stamp – all beyond the scope of a standard stamp catalogue. Local stamps fall within this field.

Thematic collecting has brought many recruits to philately, and allows a collector to combine a particular interest with a stamp collection. Displays of thematic material are visually attractive, and research into the subiect concerned is often considerable. Although some collectors of classic stamps may disapprove, thematics, attracting an ever-increasing number of devotees, are here to stay.

Republished by kind permission of the Royal Philatelic Society of New Zealand